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"Relationships: A Matter of Spiritual Warfare Pt. 3"

In parts one and two we considered the fascination that many Christians have with spiritual warfare, which often leads to pointless speculation. While the Bible does speak of such warfare, the intent of the biblical writers is often overlooked in favor of that which is more spectacular. In Ephesians, when the Apostle Paul speaks of powers in the spiritual realm, he does not enter into detailed descriptions. The most important truth he wishes to communicate is that Christ is incomparably superior to every foe.

The Realm of Conflict

The book of Ephesians encourages Christians to live their lives according to heavenly reality because they are citizens of a realm that is far above the malevolent spiritual powers that influence this evil age. From the cultural and ethnic disparities that exist in this divided world, the cross has produced one new man. Christians are a unified people drawn from all nations of the earth. We are one in Christ. Yet, for the present time, we abide in this world and are subject to the assaults of the prince and power of the air.

The book of Ephesians focuses upon the unity of God’s people and appropriate behavior for the various relationships designed by God. This is the field of battle for much of our struggle. The enemy would like nothing better than to mock the purposes of God by destroying the precious unity of God’s people. This is the main theater of war in our spiritual conflict. In this issue, we will look more closely at this theme of unity in the book of Ephesians.

Why are Relationships a Point of Struggle?

In the beginning, God prepared a paradise for Adam to inhabit. He also created Eve, a counter part with which this prince of God’s creation could have a relationship. Both were made in the image of God. There was blissful harmony within this creation that stood in right relationship to its Creator. However, the serpent persuaded Eve to rebel against God and Adam soon followed suit. Because of this sin, humanity deserved nothing but judgment and condemnation. Yet, God in His mercy immediately promised a future redemption through Christ. Nonetheless, through this sin, fallen humanity became the enemy of God under the direction of the serpent.

Because right relationship with God had been severed, the peace that was previously enjoyed throughout creation was also disrupted. Tension, strife, and competition would now plague the relationship between the first couple, a scourge that would also afflict all human relations thereafter. Not only was peace disrupted between human beings but within all of creation (cf. Rom 8:20-21). Chaos spread throughout the terrestrial realm because humanity, to whom God had entrusted dominion over the earth, was now living in rebellion against their Creator and in denial of His purpose. Humanity was estranged from the God who created and sustains all that is. When there is no peace with the One by Whom all things exist, there can be no true peace with anyone or anything. The serpent had succeeded in alienating human beings from the God they were created to image. Because of this estrangement, disharmony became the dominant characteristic of all relationships under the influence of this evil regime. The wicked forces of darkness have continued to this day promoting dissension, isolation and division within the world. Satan and his minions are devoted to the ruin of God’s good creation.


This division and strife runs throughout the whole terrestrial created order. It not only characterizes individual relationships but those among families, neighbors, cities, and even nations. This discord assumes many forms. It may manifest itself according to race, social status, political persuasion, or gender. Human beings seem to be particularly adept at finding reasons for prejudice, segregation, and exclusion. Of course, they have supernatural help. This is the unmitigated work of the enemy. And this is the context for spiritual warfare.

Next month, we will consider God’s redemptive purpose in recovering the essential unity forfeited in the Fall. We will consider the promise of God, the history of divided humanity and the great Gospel mystery of a worldwide reconciliation. We will also consider what Paul calls “grieving the Spirit” when Christian’s resort to their former way of relating to others instead of pursuing the purpose for which they were elected of God.

- Stan McGehee Jr